Chipotle Closes Virginia Restaurant After Customers Get Violently Ill

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Chipotle, no stranger to health controversies, is dealing with yet another outbreak of food poisoning. This one has already sent two customers to the hospital.

close up of a Chipotle burrito with a bite out of it.

Patrons of a Sterling, Virginia, Chipotle reported vomiting, diarrhea, severe stomach pain, and dehydration to the consumer-focused website iwaspoisoned.com, sparking worry of another outbreak like those the popular restaurant chain has grappled with in the past.

In response to the reports, Chipotle has closed the Sterling site for sanitization until Tuesday.

"Friday 7/14 Daughter and friends went to Chipotle," one customer wrote on iwaspoisoned.com. The next morning, the daughter was "violently sick, puking, diarrhea, severe pain, overnight into Sunday. Friends ill as well with one friend also in ER."

Thirteen customers in total are suffering from flu-like symptoms, and according to sources from Business Insider, two people were even hospitalized. The illness time frame indicates that the contaminated food was served either on Friday or Saturday.

"We are working with health authorities to understand what the cause may be and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible," Jim Marsden, Chipotle's executive director of food safety, told Business Insider. "The reported symptoms are consistent with norovirus. Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle."

The United States is hit with approximately 21 million cases of norovirus annually, the most common foodborne virus in the nation and highly contagious. It can become a risk for customers if a worker simply fails to wash their hands before preparing food. 

Chipotle is not new to norovirus. The chain has grappled with it before in an incident in 2015 when 120 Boston College students became ill after eating at a Chipotle near campus. However, the chain's biggest food challenge was when it was forced to shut down all its restaurants in two West Coast markets while dealing with an E. coli outbreak. The Center for Disease Control looked into the matter and has since stated that the restaurant chain is safe to consume from again, but memories of nausea don't go away so easily.

This recent report is paltry in comparison to the spat of food poisoning that hit people across 11 states, but given Chipotle's history, it will certainly have people wary.

Banner and thumbnail credit: Flickr user animakitty

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